Tag Archives: Maya Beiser

New York composer Matt Marks dies at 38

Composer Matt Marks died Friday, May 11, 2018.

Composer Matt Marks died Friday, May 11, 2018.

Talented young composer Matt Marks  — really a quadruple threat, given his beautiful singing ability, high-level horn playing (he was a founding member of leading contemporary music ensemble Alarm Will Sound), and arranging — died Friday, May 11.

He was 38.

He died in St. Louis, Missouri, where Alarm Will Sound had performed on May 9 and had been doing some recording, the band’s marketing director, Michael Clayville, tells NPR’s Deceptive Cadence blog.

Related: Fundraiser for Matt Marks’ fiancée

Learning of the sweet, funny, and sometimes acid-tongued Marks’ death under any circumstances would have been gutting. But my first clue came when composer Ted Hearne’s heartfelt tribute turned up in my Facebook feed Saturday night. I was in New Music setting that was such a familiar part of Marks’ life: at the Alexander Kasser Theater in Montclair, New Jersey, for a Peak Performances presentation of Julia Wolfe and Maya Beiser’s “Spinning,”with composer David Lang and artist Suzanne Bocanegra among the members of the audience.

The context — Peak Performances has a track record of incubating powerful new works, including David T. Little’s “Dog Days,” which springs from a well that also nourished Marks’ work — made the news of his death that much more of a gut punch.

Marks’ passing was announced on Facebook by his fiancee, Mary Kouyoumdjian.

No cause of death was given.

Alarm Will Sound posted an announcement hours after Kouyoumdjian, which precisely repeated her parting admonition: “We appreciate your sensitivity during this difficult time.”

The always funny Marks — he frequently offered random, wry, witty commentary on Twitter, lately as “Matt Marks (aka JonBenét Gramsci)” and for many years, simply under the childlike moniker “Mafoo” —  died the morning after he tweeted news that the National Endowment for the Arts had approved a $10,000 grant for the staging of his splendid opera, “Mata Hari” (seen last year at New York’s Prototype Festival) at the West Edge Opera in Berkeley, California, in August.

WATCH: An excerpt from composer Matt Marks’ opera “Mata Hari”:

I saw and was impressed by “Mata Hari” at Prototype —  where the composer, as always made a point to offer a cheerful hello —  Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? last posted about him in 2010, after a performance of his earlier work, “The Little Death: Vol. 1,” which he also performed with soprano Mellissa Hughes.

So, I couldn’t say I knew him well, and don’t wish to take anything away from his close friends and family. I simply knew him through his often brilliant and usually funny work, and his public persona of a down-to-earth person who was consistently pleasant and friendly.

Composers Ted Hearne, far left, and Caroline Shaw, far right, were in the chorus for a performance of Matt Marks'

Composers Ted Hearne, far left, and Caroline Shaw, far right, were in the chorus for a performance of Matt Marks’ “The Little Death: Vol. 1” at Galapagos in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood in 2010, with Marks and Mellissa Hughes in the lead roles. (© 2010, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Marks had only begun to reveal the full extent of his ability. He’s a composer who always held a special place in my heart because I got to see him and his work early on and watch him grow and blossom.

R.I.P. Matt Marks.

WATCH: The Beatles’ “Revolution No. 9,” arranged by Matt Marks:

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Bang on a Can Marathon: 9 hours of New Music in a new home this Sunday

A crowd of listeners at the 2011 Bang on a Can Marathon at the Winter Garden. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

A crowd of listeners at the 2011 Bang on a Can Marathon at the Winter Garden. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

This Sunday is a special day.

Yes, it’s Father’s Day, but that’s not it.

Sunday is also the day that Bang on a Can is throwing its big, genre-bending musical party for New York City — the Bang on a Can Marathon.

Mark your calendar and don’t miss it. But don’t head to the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center, where the free marathon New Music concert has been held for the last few years.

From 1-10 pm on Sunday (be sure to take Dad to brunch early and then bring him along to the show afterward), Bang on a Can will fill Pace University’s Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at 3 Spruce Street with nine hours of music — some of it familiar, some you’ve probably never heard before.

It’s the kickoff event of the River to River Festival, one of the city’s great free performing-arts series.

Bang on a Can had to move the marathon this year because the Winter Garden is under construction. The Schimmel Center is a smaller venue, a concert hall with fixed seating rather than a mall atrium with open, casual seating. So that means changes in the format.

Asphalt Orchestra performing at the 2011 Bang on a Can Marathon.

Asphalt Orchestra performing at the 2011 Bang on a Can Marathon.

For starters, you’ll need to get a free seating pass before you go in to sample the sounds. That’s just so the organizers can make sure the audience never exceeds the capacity of the 743-seat hall. They’ll be handing out the passing starting at noon — an hour before the first onstage event — on a first-come, first-served basis, so get there early to snag a good seat.

In addition to listening to the music, be sure to jump in on Twitter, too, by following on @bangonacan.

While most of the action is in the hall, if you get there early, you’ll encounter Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation. From noon until 5 pm, it’ll be operating its Street Studio, where anyone who wants to give it a try can create and record original music. Look for it at Park Row and Spruce Street.

Check out the full schedule after the jump.

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A bright, musical — and FREE — way to end a dull, gray Tuesday

Miller Theatre’s Pop-Up Concerts are back

Ugh. It’s pretty grim to realize it’s only Tuesday. And what a nasty Tuesday it has turned out to be.

But there’s something happening tonight that’ll put a drink in your hand, a smile on your face and send you back out into the world with a head full of music: Pop-Up Concerts at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre.

And it won’t cost you a dime.

Here’s the deal: One Tuesday a month, this very cool program takes over the theater for a quick, casual get-together that ends in a very cool concert. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Grab a free drink (thanks to Harlem Brewing Co.) when you get there, and hang out with fellow music lovers until the show starts at 6.

Tonight’s program is Minimalism’s Evolution. Sure, it sounds a little heady, maybe even academic. This is happening on an Ivy League campus, after all. But this series isn’t like any college course you might remember. Pop-Up Concerts let you get up close and personal with the artists in an informal performance that lasts just an hour.

Be sure to save the dates of the next two installments of Pop-Up Concerts: Nov. 13 of 120 Years of Solo Piano and Dec. 11 for John Zorn for Strings.

Tonight you’ll get three members of the awesome Ensemble Signal: Courtney Orlando on violin, Lauren Radnofsky on cello and Paul Coleman on sound.

Read on for the full program and all the details you need to get there. Continue reading

Maya Beiser and Pablo Ziegler: Two to tango

Maya Beiser performs at (Le) Poisson Rouge in 2009. (Photo © 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

Cellist and pianist-composer pay tribute to tango great Ástor Piazzolla

Maya Beiser, one of the best cellists at work today returns to her roots on Tuesday, Feb. 1, joining tango master Pablo Ziegler, a composer and pianist, for a program of tangos in tribute to the late Ástor Piazzolla.

Pablo Ziegler (Photo by Oscar Balsucci)

Their program, Canyengue, the Soul of Tango, offers Ziegler’s arrangements of some of Piazzolla’s best-known numbers along with some that are rarely heard. Percussionist Satoshi Kateish will sit in on some of the tunes. Performances of some of Ziegler’s compositions and Beiser’s solo rendition of Osvaldo Golijov‘s Mariel, will round out the program.

The Latin Grammy-winning Ziegler was a member of Piazzolla’s band for 10 years, and went on to form his own tango ensemble, so he lives and breathes the fiery musical form.

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Get ready for the Bang on a Can Marathon

Asphalt Orchestra at Lincoln Center Out of Doors on Aug. 4, 2010. © 2010, Steven P. Marsh

Asphalt Orchestra will open the 2011 edition of the Bang on a Can Marathon by performing "Carlton" by Stes and Heidi Rodewald and "Opus 81" by Yoko Ono. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, but it doesn’t really get started for us at Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? until the annual Bang on a Can Marathon arrives.

This year’s edition is Sunday, June 19. It’s scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to midnight, meaning we’re in for a real treat of 13 continuous hours of music — all for FREE at the World Financial Center Winter Garden in Manhattan’s Battery Park City.

Todd Reynolds at Littlefield's, Feb. 13, 2011. © 2011 Steven P. Marsh

Todd Reynolds

Scheduling problems (also known as my day job) last year made it hard to take in much of the daylong (mostly indoors) event.

We managed to listen only for a couple of hours. We’re not going to let that happen this year. We’ve made sure to save the time and date this year. You should, too.

This year’s edition features many of our favorites, including Bang on a Can’s house band, the All-Stars, electro-acoustic violinist extraodinaire Todd Reynolds (performing a World Premiere of his work Transamerica), avant garde marching band Asphalt Orchestra, the fabulous New Music ensemble Signal, singer-composer-director Toby Twining, cellist Maya Beiser and the truly wonderful Young People’s Chorus of New York City.

Toby Twining

Toby Twining (Ben Sozanski photo)

Aside from our recurring favorites, this year’s marathon also features a performance by the Sun Ra Arkestra in the 8-10 p.m. slot, and the Glenn Branca Ensemble as the day’s closer.

Aside from works by Bang on Can founders Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon and David Lang, the day features music by luminaries such as Philip Glass. Iannis Xenakis and Michael Nyman. However, the music of Steve Reich, a godfather of Bang on a Can, is absent from the program.

Click through for the full schedule or download a copy here.

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